One Word to Describe Every Bowl Program's Postseason Performance
With the bowl season almost over, college football fans have been treated to some amazing games. We have seen high scoring shootouts, one-sided affairs, defensive battles and kicking failures.
As we enjoy the last few days of college football, fans begin to prepare themselves for the long spring and summer months as we wait for the 2012 season to begin. In the mean time, fans will have national signing day, spring games and summer practice to hold them over.
Here is a look at one word to describe each bowl team's performance.
When going up against Wyoming, Temple gained control of this matchup from the opening kickoff through the final whistle. At no point did it feel like the Owls had lost control and it was an outstanding 60 minutes of football.
With the understanding of how Temple played against Wyoming, the only way to describe the Cowboys performance is flat. Regardless of what aspect of the game you look at, they were outplayed and never appeared to be in this game.
After losing their conference title game, Ohio headed to the Idaho Potato Bowl. With the final seconds ticking off the game clock, Ohio made sure they didn't drop two straight as they scored with :13 remaining in the game to close out a one-point win.
Utah State: Oops
Utah State ended the year the way that they started it, failing to close on a golden opportunity. With under 20 minutes remaining in their bowl game, Utah State held a 23-10 lead but allowed Ohio to hang around and ended up losing with :13 remaining.
San Diego State: Frustrating
For San Diego State, the way that they played was extremely frustrating. Trailing in the fourth, the Aztecs scored two touchdowns, the second coming with under a minute remaining and still failed to secure a win.
UL Lafayette: Rare
During the season and during the bowl season we have seen a lot of kickers come up short in big situations and cost their teams the game. Trailing by one, UL Lafayette set up their kicker for a 50-yard field goal with only second remaining and he drilled it for the win.
During the season, Marshall has gained a lot of pride from how they play on special teams. As they did during the regular season, Marshall blocked a punt which continued their trend of winning every game they successfully block a punt.
One thing that FIU found out during their game against Marshall was the importance of conversions. During the game, FIU found themselves in third down 15 times and only managed to convert that play four times. The lack of success on third down led to the eventual loss.
Throughout the year, TCU turned things around from a slow start and ended up having a great year. All of their hard work culminated in a win over Boise State on the road but their performance against Louisiana Tech was average, despite the win.
Louisiana Tech: Miss
With a game against TCU, Louisiana Tech had an outstanding chance to secure a big win and go into 2012 on a big note. Instead, the Bulldogs allowed a fourth quarter lead slip away and missed out on their chance.
Arizona State: Par
In the second half of the season, Arizona State went from a Pac-12 contender to a team that completely fell off the map. Against Boise State, their effort was par for the second half of the year and was a bad way to end the 2011 season.
Boise State: Convincing
In his final game at Boise State, Kellen Moore did not hold back. Moore led the Broncos to a 56-24 win and closed the book on an exciting chapter in the Boise State program's history.
After last years memorable season for the Wolf Pack, things have gone in a downward spiral and was not the same in 2011. Nevada ended up finishing 7-6 and capped off the year with a loss to Southern Miss.
Southern Miss: Noteworthy
After flying under the radar for most of the year, Southern Miss surprised everyone and ruined Houston's undefeated season. They then followed it up with a win over Nevada and finished with a very strong 12-2 record.
UNC started their bowl game off great, driving down the field and scoring a touchdown to take a 7-0 lead over Missouri. Things went bad from their as UNC fell asleep and allowed Missouri to score 31 unanswered points and ultimately defeat the Tar Heels.
Missouri showed up to their bowl game ready to play and on time. The effort resulted in a 31-10 halftime lead that allowed the Tigers to cruise to a bowl win over North Carolina.
Western Michigan: Oops
Western Michigan gave Purdue a heck of a game but they have to be thinking that this was a game that slipped away. The Broncos turned the ball over seven times and ended up allowing two onside kick recoveries.
In the Little Ceasars Bowl, Purdue needed some luck and help to take down Western Michigan, who gave the Boilermakers all that they could handle. With the help of two onside kicks, Purdue held on to a five point victory.
NC State: Stunning
When Russell Wilson decided to leave NC State after graduating in three years, many wrote off the Wolfpack figuring that Wilson had carried them but after a eight win season, including a bowl win, NC State walked away with a stunningly successful 2011.
Louisville ended up being one of the three teams tied for the conference title in the Big East but was also one of the teams left out of the BCS. Instead of heading to a BCS game, the Cardinals headed to the Belk Bowl and could not get a win against NC State.
Toledo was involved with the Air Force in a shootout and came out on the winning end. The key to the win for Toledo was the efficient nature of their drives. Six times, the Rockets went on scoring drives and put it in the end zone and earned themselves a win.
Air Force: Heartbreaking
The Air Force was the only service academy team to play in a bowl game this year and they sure made things entertaining. They exchanged score for score with Toledo and after scoring a late touchdown, tried to catch the Rockets sleeping by going for two but failed to execute the play, leaving them with a heartbreaking loss.
If you are looking for a blueprint that will help you win almost any game, take a page from the playbook that Texas used against Cal. In their bowl game, Texas did not turnover the ball at all but their ballhawking defense created five turnovers in a winning effort.
Against Texas, Cal played a very uninspired game and looked like they did not even want to be there. After missing a bowl game last year and looking bad this year, coach Jeff Tedford might start to notice that his coaching spot is starting to warm up.
Florida State: Irrelevant
While the win against Notre Dame was nice, it ultimately was an irrelevant victory as the Seminoles came into the year with much high aspirations. The hype around the team will likely pick back up over the summer and it will be interesting to see if they can elevate their play to match the talk.
Notre Dame: Boring
Notre Dame looked like an extremely unmotivated team and it became boring to even watch. The Irish only managed two scores and aside from their defense, appeared like they did not even want to be there.
While the Baylor Bears defense was almost as bad, the Washington Huskies defense was simply offensive, giving up 67 points and 777 total yards of offense.
The Alamo game will certainly be a bowl game that not many will ever forget but one that the defenses would loved to have erased from their memory. Offensively, Baylor was simply amazing against Washington and managed to put up 67 points.
While Tulsa did not play a great game, they still held a 21-17 lead with under :20 remaining in the game. BYU would end up scoring with :11 remaining in the game and Tulsa would leave town without a bowl win.
When going up against Tulsa in the Armed Forces bowl, both teams played sloppy. For BYU, they committed two turnovers, had 60 yards in penalties and went 8 for 21 on third down. Overall it wasn't a great effort but still earned them a win.
While Rutgers did play great and earned a nice bowl victory, this game and win held more meaning then most. After the game and during the trophy presentation, Greg Schiano called out for Eric LeGrand, a player who was badly injured last year and still in a wheelchair, and let him know this win was for him.
Iowa State: Spent
After beating Oklahoma State (ranked No. 2 at the time) in double overtime, Iowa State finished the season with three straight losses, vs. Oklahoma, Kansas State and Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl.
That's a gauntlet of four games, and this Iowa State team must feel spent right about now.
Wake Forest: Collapse
The start of the year looked great for Wake Forest. They started off the year 5-2 but after that start, they completely collapsed and never recovered. The Demon Deacons would play six more games and only win one of them.
Mississippi State: Justified
Despite an average year, coach Dan Mullen and the Mississippi State Bulldogs ended the year with a bang, beating Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl and winning the Music City Bowl. While the season looked lost, the Bulldogs managed to justify things with those two big wins.
Coming into the season, Oklahoma was the preseason No. 1 in the nation and many believed they had the talent to end up in the BCS National Title game. Instead, the Sooners dropped a couple of games and fell to the Insight Bowl against Iowa. This is a season where many players and fans are left to wonder about what could have been.
Against the Oklahoma Sooners, Iowa showed up way too late for them to have any chance of winning this game. Already down 21-0, the Hawkeyes did not put any points up on the board until the fourth quarter and never really threatened, losing 31-14.
Despite a late comeback bid by the Wildcats, they still came up short and Northwestern fans are still left with a feeling of waiting. For the ninth straight time, the Wildcats had an opportunity to win a bowl game but have yet to finish the job.
Texas A&M: Finish
The much publicized issue that Texas A&M had this year was the issue of finishing games. Too often this year their fans watched as the Aggies had a big second half lead evaporate.
In their bowl game against the Wildcats, Texas A&M had a big lead again and when it appeared they were going into a downward spiral, they came up with the stops necessary and hung on to win the game.
Georgia Tech: Field Goal
In the Sun Bowl, Georgia Tech can look back to two field goals that ended up costing them the game. At the end of the game, the Yellow Jackets had a chance to win the game but missed a long field goal to the right.
The second field goal was the one that had to settle for in overtime that allowed Utah to win on a touchdown during their possession.
Utah looked to be out of things as the fourth quarter arrived in the Sun Bowl. Down 24-10, the Utes managed to score two straight touchdowns and a third in overtime to secure the bowl victory.
Going into the fourth quarter, Cincinnati had only managed 14 points and were looking like they would fail to close out Vanderbilt.
Luckily for the Bearcats, they got a spark from the special teams and managed to finish the fourth strong with 17 points and a win.
In a game in which Vanderbilt only lost by one score, it is hard to not look back at the three turnovers they committed. If they were able to take care of the ball better, Vanderbilt would have had a great opportunity at a bowl win.
Coming into their bowl game, Illinois' 6-0 was a distant memory. Since jumping out to that undefeated start, the Illini dropped their next six games coming into the bowl game.
Their win in the Kraft Fight Hunger bowl brought a sense of relief and finally earned them their seventh win.
UCLA is living a season in which they were given rewards that they were undeserving of. Due to the off the field issues that USC ran into, UCLA was the default division champions.
After getting beat up in the Pac-12 title game, UCLA had a losing record, still was awarded a bowl game and failed to take advantage of that opportunity.
Underwhelming has to be the best way to describe this bowl season for Auburn. It is not based on how the Tigers played because they beat Virginia convincingly but because of how the fans and players had to feel based on the hype and experience of playing in last year national title game.
After a great year, Virginia drew Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Bowl and were clearly overmatched. From offense, to defense, to special teams, the Cavaliers were unable to keep up with the Tigers for sixty minutes.
Like for much of the year, the Houston Cougars offense was powered by its senior quarterback Case Keenum who seemed to throw for miles against Penn State as Houston cruised to a bowl win.
Penn State: Strange
Strange could be one of the words to sum up the entree year for Penn State but it was just very strange to watch a Joe Paterno-less Penn State team head into a bowl game.
Georgia seemed to have everything under control against Michigan State but once the teams went to overtime, things turned on the Bulldogs.
When Georgia got to overtime, the kicking truly let them down as they had an opportunity to win and extend the game and failed both times.
Michigan State: Rewarded
Michigan State has often been tagged with the saying of same old Spartans. After falling behind early, the Spartans shed that image with a thrilling triple overtime win over Georgia.
After putting up 13 points in the first quarter, Nebraska failed to put up another point throughout the game. Despite the promising start, the Cornhuskers ended up turning in a lackluster performance.
South Carolina: Adjustment
All it took was one quarter and the South Carolina defense was able to adjust to the Nebraska offensive attack. Early in the game, Nebraska scored two touchdowns but were shutout after those first quarter scores.
Going up against Ohio State, Florida put forth an extra effort that had not been seen for most of the year. On both special teams and defense, the Gators seemed to go the extra step that ultimately led to the victory.
Ohio State: Vanilla
Fans of Ohio State cannot wait for the Urban Meyer era to begin now as their performance against the Gators was extremely vanilla. The Buckeyes looked flat and uninspired and it will be interesting to see how Meyer motivates this team as they cannot go to a bowl next year.
After their field goal kicker let them down twice, Stanford saw the ending of an era. When the final field goal sailed through for Oklahoma State, Andrew Luck and his talents would be leaving Stanford and creating a huge question mark for the Cardinal.
Oklahoma State: ?
The Oklahoma Cowboys only need a question mark to sum up their season. This will be the year that regardless of what happens between the Crimson Tide and Tigers, everyone will wonder what the Cowboys could have done.
If you are Wisconsin, you have to let this season go because if you dwell on the way you lost games, you will drive yourself crazy. Getting the ball back in the Rose Bowl with under :25 remaining and you still had a chance must have been gut-wrenching for all fans and players.
With a third straight appearance in a BCS game, the Ducks finally got the monkey off their back with a 45-38 win over Wisconsin and not only validated themselves as an elite program but also validated Chip Kelly's offense out of conference.
Many believed that Michigan would come into this game and attempt to win a high scoring game behind the legs of Denard Robinson. Instead of that being the case, the Wolverines came up with an unexpected game from their defense and held of the Hokies.
Virginia Tech: Regrets
Virginia Tech is going to have a lot of regrets out of this game. The Hokies had plenty of opportunities to put Michigan back on their heels but instead squandered those opportunities and left the door open for a Michigan victory.
West Virginia: Unpredictable
All year the Big East has taken crap for their weak conference. Most expected them to come into this game and have Clemson beat them soundly but while a team was beaten soundly in the Orange Bowl, it was not West Virginia as this was one of the most unpredictable bowl performances.
Words are hard to describe what happened to a once title contender last night in the Orange Bowl. After the Mountaineers returned a fumble on the Tigers things turned in a hurry and Clemson was embarrassed by West Virginia.
Arkansas picked a bad year to have a great season. This year, they went up against the two teams in the national title game, who also happened to be in their own division. While normally their season would justify a BCS game, Arkansas must remain focus and take care of Kansas State..
Kansas State: Proven
When Kansas State goes up against Arkansas they are going to be looking to prove how good they truly were this year. Throughout the year, many doubted the success of the Wildcats but a win over the Razorbacks could go a long way to validate and prove how good of a year they had.
This year was a tough year for the Panthers despite having some decent skill. Throughout the year, Pittsburgh struggled to live up to their potential and fell short of the conference crown. When going up against SMU, the Panthers must play up to their potential and earn a bowl win.
Since falling out of the national spotlight with the Pony Express, SMU has been scratching and clawing to comeback from the depths of their death penalty. Over the past few years, SMU has had more success and a bowl win against Pittsburgh would certainly go a long way.
Arkansas State: Pressure
Going up against Northern Illinois may prove to be an offensive shootout. While the Red Wolves certainly have the offense to keep up, they must apply defensive pressure to give their offense more opportunities to put the game away.
Northern Illinois: Defense
Despite their high scoring offense, the Northern Illinois Huskies must make sure that their defense shows up and is able to contain the Arkansas State offensive attack or the game will be over early.
Like it or not, the Crimson Tide are in the BCS National Championship. Despite losing to LSU and not winning their own conference, the Tide are the recipients on an undeserving shot at the title which further illustrated the flaws of the BCS.
Despite not playing yet, the LSU Tigers are looking to complete what they have started. So far they have run the SEC table, gotten through their out of conference games and conference title game and only have one more obstacle in their way.
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